AN UPDATE ON FISHING LEGISLATION THAT THREATENS GULF SEAFOOD

**This update was circulated to Share the Gulf supporters on December 22, 2017**

Last week, a congressional committee voted to advance two bills, H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588, that seriously threaten sustainable fishing and the hard-fought recovery of the red snapper fishery, putting businesses, anglers, and families who depend on Gulf fisheries at risk.

As you know, the hard work of fishermen and conservationists, enabled by our current fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, has increased the amount of red snapper on the menu, on fishermen’s lines, and in the water. Provisions in H.R. 200 would weaken that law by exempting key fisheries from science-based catch limits, undermining the recovery of depleted fisheries, putting important management tools off limits for managers, and stifling the ability of fishermen and researchers to innovate.

Another bill, H.R. 3588, would give Gulf of Mexico states the authority to manage private angler fishing for red snapper but would exempt them from the annual catch limit process that has helped this red snapper population grow and reproduce. While we need to fix the broken recreational management system and provide fair and flexible access for anglers, H.R. 3588 lacks adequate conservation safeguards to ensure that private anglers don’t far exceed their quota, which has occurred in the 23 of the last 27 years. The Gulf States should have a chance to succeed while working within a scientifically-justified, conservation-based backstop to protect against potential unforeseen problems.

Fisheries bills have historically had strong bipartisan support. Both previous reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act were overwhelmingly bipartisan. But H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588 lack broad support from stakeholders, and as a result, the votes last week were largely along party lines.

Hundreds of Share the Gulf supporters—from chefs and fishermen to conservationists and consumers—have weighed in to oppose these bills in their current forms. Organized in part by Share the Gulf, a group of more than 175 chefs, restaurant owners, and seafood dealers, including signatories from all five Gulf States, sent a letter to Congress opposing these bills. Furthermore, the leading organization representing commercial red snapper fishermen, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, sent a letter expressing their concerns.

The fight is not over. We must continue to remind our Members of Congress that these bills lack meaningful bipartisan support and are currently opposed by fishing groups, chefs, restaurateurs, and others throughout the nation who value and depend on sustainable fishing for today and future generations. There is still time before the next key vote to tell your Member of Congress to keep our Gulf fisheries strong and healthy.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to sustainable Gulf fisheries.

Sincerely,

Stephen Stryjewski
Cochon, Louisiana
Gulf Chef Chair

Eric Brazer
Deputy Director
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance

SHARE THE GULF EXPRESSES CONCERN AHEAD OF COMMITTEE VOTE

** Ahead of House Natural Resources Committee markup that threatens the remarkable recovery of Gulf of Mexico red snapper, Share the Gulf supporters Captain Bubba Cochrane of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and Stan Harris of the Louisiana Restaurant Association wrote to Congress to express their opposition to the bills as currently written.**

Share the Gulf is a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, seafood wholesalers and distributors, fishermen, conservationists and consumers. With supporters across the Gulf of Mexico, our mission is to ensure businesses, anglers and families have access to abundant and sustainable Gulf fisheries now and for years to come. As a diverse group of stakeholders in the region, we are contacting you to express our opposition to H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588 as currently written and ask members to stand up for sustainable seafood and equitable use of federal fisheries for all of us.

On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Committee will markup H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588, which in their current forms would hurt seafood and fishing businesses and the long-term conservation of our fisheries, including Gulf of Mexico red snapper. Some of us have proposed amendment language that would include conservation language and allow science-based data to direct fisheries management. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been included in the legislation’s current form.

As a result, we ask that you oppose the bills unless they are amended in markup to:

  • Ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries, including red snapper, by requiring science-based management that adheres to annual catch limits as prescribed in current law.
  • Allow stakeholders and regional decision makers to have access to a full range of tools, including catch shares.
  • Eliminate the mandate for burdensome periodic reviews of fishing quota allocations.
  • Ensure that no unnecessary hurdles are introduced for fishermen and researchers to use exempted fishing permits, an important way to test management innovations and technology.
  • Set reasonable deadlines for rebuilding fish populations so that they don’t remain depleted for decades.

It has taken years of hard work and sacrifice to revitalize Gulf fisheries that anglers, commercial fishermen, restaurateurs, chefs and seafood lovers all depend on. The future of our region depends on healthy and sustainable Gulf fisheries. We appreciate you taking our concerns into account.

Sincerely,

Stan Harris
President & CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association

Captain Bubba Cochrane
President, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance
Owner & Operator of F/V CHELSEA ANN